Stop writing crap! How to break the vapid cycle of article marketing and guest posting

Stop writing crap! How to break the vapid cycle of article marketing and guest posting

I’ve been getting frustrated with the internet lately. Every headline I click on – even by big reputable sites like Forbes, HuffPost or Medium … turns out to be a short, numbered list of pretty worthless tips. Nothing moving or life-changing. Nothing practical that I can really use in my life or business. Mostly just a teaser so that the author can get a link and tagline at the bottom of the article from a bigger site.

Which means… the entire internet is becoming a nest of worthless teasers and no content.

Sure we know why: Guest posting WORKS. It’s powerful SEO strategy. Article marketing lets you post links to your site on much bigger sites, which means more exposure and more traffic. Yippee! And it’s not too hard to get approved, because big blogs need lots of content (more content=more advertising revenue). So they let a whole bunch of writers post crap, earning a lot of money without needing to hire and pay staff writers, and writers get more leads and exposures.

The problem is, although the tricks still work, readers like me are getting really annoyed. Reading a crap article I will note the author by-line with frustration and negativity. You’re creating awareness, sure – you’re on my radar now – but you’ve triggered negative emotions. I don’t like that you’ve wasted my time with a promise of quality content and instead I’ve got nothing.

I don’t like that I have to click back to your site to see if you really have anything more interesting or valuable to say, which you didn’t feel like actually sharing in the guest post. I hate that catchy, attention-grabbing headlines are constantly on the top of my various feeds, pulling me in for a 3 second browse before I get back to what I was doing. I hate that if I actually want to learn something, I need to go to Wikipedia or an online dictionary or some other site (which doesn’t make its revenue from content) to actually figure out the details.

That’s really all I have to say on the subject, but I’ll leave you with a warning:

IF you’re going to write guest posts – and you should, truly – make sure it’s the best damn article you could have written. Make it long, enticing, beautiful written, leaps and bounds better than the other material on the site. Make it the best damn post you’ve ever written. Spend time on it. Research it. Edit it. Be a guru. Be a master. Make a powerful, positive impact. Solve a crucial problem – and solve it WELL, not with a simple bullet point.

Rule of thumb: if the article took you less than an hour to write from start to finish, spend a little more time on it.

Updates: AI article writing

I never posted that original post above because it’s too flimsy, it’s just an opinion. But the game has changed in a huge way. Now we have AI writing tools. On the one hand, this means everybody can churn out stuff easily. The weird thing is, the writing is actually getting better.

I didn’t take my own advice, because it’s a lot of work to write a long, super detailed, super useful post. Now I can use chatGPT to crank them out… and they aren’t crap – they might even be better written than my quick messy brainfarts.

For example, I tried rewriting the above and got these, which I’ll share for transparency:

Article Version One

The internet – once a sprawling frontier of ideas and the promise of ever-expanding human knowledge – is now plagued with the modern miasma of mediocrity. We’ve become entangled in a self-imposed web of trite content, and frankly, it’s starting to wear on even the most forgiving of readers.

The Illusion of Content: Look around! Most of the blogs and sites you visit, especially the titans like Forbes, HuffPost, or Medium, are teeming with articles that promise the moon but deliver mere stardust. Clickbait headlines lure you in, only for you to be met with a flimsy list of surface-level insights. And, just as you’re reaching the end, hoping for some redeeming gem of wisdom, you’re instead slapped with the author’s backlink.

The question is, have we sacrificed genuine value for visibility?

The Seductive Lure of Quick Wins: The root cause? The seduction of guest posting. Don’t get me wrong, guest posting is potent. For writers and businesses alike, it offers an attractive avenue for broader exposure. These bigger platforms are ever-thirsty for fresh content, making it relatively easy for contributors to pitch and secure a spot. This setup works like a charm: Platforms get their ad revenue, while guest post authors secure leads.

But at what cost?

The Price of Mediocrity: Every hastily written and poorly researched piece is another nail in the coffin of genuine content. For readers like us, the landscape becomes a frustrating maze. We navigate through endless streams of vapid posts, often leaving with a bitter taste in our mouths. The tragedy? These posts not only rob the reader of valuable time but also soil the reputation of the author and the platform hosting them.

A Call to Authenticity: So, here’s a wake-up call to every content creator out there. Let’s not transform this vast digital landscape into a wasteland of mediocrity. If you’re venturing into guest posting – and there are undeniable benefits to it – make sure you’re delivering substance. Let each article be a testament to your dedication, expertise, and passion.

Every post you pen should be:

  • Well-researched: Don’t skim the surface. Dive deep.
  • Thoughtfully edited: Refined prose reflects care.
  • Authentic: Be the voice that stands out amidst the cacophony.

Remember, true value isn’t in rapid production but in meaningful creation.

The Gold Standard: A good measure? If your article took under an hour to draft, reflect on it. Could you add more? Is there a unique perspective you missed? Is this the best representation of what you know and believe? Because, in this digital age, where attention is the new currency, nothing less than your best will do.

In closing, let’s not reduce the internet – this marvel of human ingenuity – to a marketplace of mediocrity. Let’s aim higher, write better, and reclaim the authenticity the digital realm deserves.

Article Version Two

We’ve all been there. You know, that moment when you click on an enticing headline, waiting to be enlightened. Only, the glimmer of hope is rapidly extinguished. Suddenly, you’re knee-deep in a sea of mundane tips and half-baked insights, courtesy of mega platforms like Forbes, HuffPost, and Medium. And while the frustration brews, you spot it – the reason for this drivel – the infamous author link and tagline at the article’s base.

Sigh. The internet is spiraling into a void of empty teasers and zilch content. But why?

The Allure of Guest Posting: Ah yes, the siren song of guest posting! It’s potent, isn’t it? Article marketing with its promises of exposure and traffic. And truly, it’s not all smoke and mirrors. You offer up an article, and in exchange, big blogs give you visibility. They churn out content like there’s no tomorrow, reaping the ad benefits while granting writers their moment in the sun.

However, this seemingly symbiotic relationship has a glaring flaw.

Quantity Over Quality: As more writers join the guest-posting bandwagon, there’s a frantic rush to churn out content. The need for quantity slowly overshadows the essence of quality. Hence, the onslaught of bullet-pointed fluff pieces on our feeds. And while the metrics might paint a rosy picture, the readers – you, me, us – are left yearning for substance.

The Risk of Rapid Recognition: Here’s the thing about these hastily-written teasers: they do make an impression, but not always the one you’d want. As a reader, when I wade through a shallow article, I associate feelings of annoyance with the author. Sure, you’ve made it to my radar, but for all the wrong reasons. Is fleeting recognition worth the damage to your reputation?

Crafting Genuine Content: If guest posting is your game – and there’s no reason it shouldn’t be – make it count. Think of every article as a piece of art. Craft it meticulously. Pore over facts, fine-tune your prose, and engage your reader. Go beyond the rudimentary and delve deep.

To put it simply, if that article you’re about to submit looks like it’s been wrapped up in a hurried hour, it probably needs more of your time.

The Way Forward: Yes, the digital realm might seem saturated with insipid articles, but it’s not too late. We, as creators, can redefine this space. When you next pen a guest post, ensure it’s your magnum opus. Let it be comprehensive, compelling, and most importantly, genuine.

In the vast expanse of the internet, let’s not allow our content to be mere fillers. Instead, let every piece echo with authenticity, value, and depth. It’s not just about making a mark, but making the right one.

The Future of Digital Marketing & SEO

Either of those posts above would be fine; the tricky part is editing the best parts together and creating a truly exceptional piece of content – a decade ago we use to say “make epic shit.”

Unironically – where epic shit is the opposite of crap.

And right now, perhaps, I think, we have an opportunity to create epic shit with AI writing tools – more content, and better content – but only if we spend more time and care making sure it’s really great (assuming, hopefully, that most money-chasers will be cranking out crap still, and won’t have the expertise or ingenuity to make it better).

But it’s also probably true that the time of content writers is coming to an end; it’s just too cheap to get quality SEO articles done now, in bulk. But most big businesses will take time to pivot, so smaller businesses who previously couldn’t afford a content marketer or SEO article writer can now do it themselves (like me!), and using it as a helpful assistant to finish all the half-baked ideas I started a decade ago.

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